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Inquiring minds should want to know.

What is a Leveraged Buyout?

A leveraged buyout is a tactic through which control of a corporation is acquired by buying up a majority of their stock using borrowed money. A leveraged buyout may also be referred to as a hostile takeover, a highly-leveraged transaction, or a bootstrap transaction.

Once control is acquired, the company is often made private, so that the new owners have more leeway to do what they want with it. This may involve splitting up the corporation and selling the pieces of it for a high profit, or liquidating its assets and dissolving the corporation itself.

A Leveraged Buyout is a Hostile Take-over.

If Corporations were people, LBO's would be like Armed-Robbery.

What is a Leveraged Buyout?

Leveraged buyout -- wikipedia

A leveraged buyout (or LBO), or highly leveraged transaction (HLT), or "bootstrap" transaction) occurs when an investor, typically a financial sponsor, acquires a controlling interest in a company's equity and where a significant percentage of the purchase price is financed through leverage (borrowing). The assets of the acquired company are used as collateral for the borrowed capital, sometimes with assets of the acquiring company.

Companies of all sizes and industries have been the target of leveraged buyout transactions, although because of the importance of debt and the ability of the acquired firm to make regular loan payments after the completion of a leveraged buyout, some features of potential target firms make for more attractive leverage buyout candidates, including:

    * Low existing debt loads;

    * A multi-year history of stable and recurring cash flows;

    * Hard assets (property, plant and equipment, inventory, receivables) that may be used as collateral for lower cost secured debt;

    * The potential for new management to make operational or other improvements to the firm to boost cash flows, such as workforce reductions or eliminations;

    * Market conditions and perceptions that depress the valuation or stock price.

A Leveraged Buyout is a free-market Garage Sale.

If weak Corporations can be sold off for parts, and careers toss away like so much overhead -- then in the Corp-Eat-Corp world, they must be sold of for parts.  All those onerous paychecks, simply must be tossed. Canceled; erased.

Time is money afterall ... daylight's burning ...

Billionaire Opportunity is there just for the taking.

What is a Leveraged Buyout?

Leveraged Buyout (LBO)

The risks associated with a LBO deal [Leveraged Buy Out] are why share prices often fall when a company announces news of a LBO. However, such a price fall can be a buying opportunity if investors think the company will be able to pay down the debt, which increases the value of the shares.

The world's most famous LBO is the approximately $25 billion takeover of RJR Nabisco by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1989. The deal was so famous (and so brazen) that it was immortalized by the book and movie Barbarians at the Gate. In those days, many companies used LBOs to purchase undervalued companies only to turn around and sell off the assets (these acquirers were called corporate raiders). [...]

A Leveraged Buyout is a high-stakes poker game, in a modern 'take no prisoners' age.

Your productivity, your job, your pension -- they're all game.  All Chips on somebody else's high-roller table.  

What is a Leveraged Buyout?

Largest private equity firms -- wikipedia

The following is a ranking of the largest private equity firms published in 2011. The ranking was compiled by Private Equity International, which reveals that the world's 50 largest private equity direct investment programs have raised in excess of US$325 billion since 2006

Rank    Name of the firm    Headquarters    Capital Raised as of Apr 2011
                                                                                (billions of USD)
1   TPG Capital                                 US Fort Worth        $ 50.55
2   Goldman Sachs Capital Partners     US New York           $ 47.22
3   The Carlyle Group                        US Washington DC   $ 40.54
4   Kohlberg Kravis Roberts                 US New York           $ 40.21
5   The Blackstone Group                    US New York           $ 36.42
6   Apollo Management                       US New York           $ 33.81
7   Bain Capital                                US Boston             $ 29.4
8   CVC Capital Partners                     UK London             $ 25.07
9   First Reserve Corporation               US Greenwich, CT    $ 19.06
10   Hellman & Friedman                    US San Francisco     $ 17.20


What is a Leveraged Buyout?

It's only the skill-set that Mitt Romney has on his Resume.

It's the wealth of experience he promises bring to America's free market economy.

Leveraged Buyout is the Resource Re-Allocation trick that can turn all that rusty corporate-capital into gold

-- Stacks of it, in someone's hidden offshore account somewhere, never to be seen again for a very, very long time.

Time is money ... thanks for playing along at home ...  That's all folks.

Come on, you didn't think Billionaires were doing this, to Help the Country Grow, did you?  

If that were the case then, Why so many offshore accounts?

Inquiring minds should want to know.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent diary... (28+ / 0-)

    I think "Leveraged Buyout" sounds so much nicer than "Armed Robbery."  Besides, armed robbers are despised and put in jail, while LBO firms get on the cover of Fortune.

    If I wasn't a christian man, I'd be kicking yo ass! ~Daddy Rich

    by Dahankster on Mon May 07, 2012 at 06:05:23 AM PDT

    •  thanks Dahankster (15+ / 0-)

      we really should use language,

      more fitting of the crime,   er ah "service".

      What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
      -- Maslow ...... my list.

      by jamess on Mon May 07, 2012 at 06:14:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  are all private equity firms "corporate raiders"? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timaeus, elwior, rubyduby7

        Very informative diary - thanks!!

        "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

        by MartyM on Mon May 07, 2012 at 07:49:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  jamess - your discription of LBOs is written (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PatriciaVa, BachFan, nextstep

        from the perspective of someone who really does not understand how LBOs actually work, but has found a few paragraphs here and there on the internet and cobbled them together. There is no doubt that LBOs can be bad for employees, and there are significant risks with the leverage used in LBOs. There are also LBO funds that buy companies and sell the pieces, although that is rare. It is important to note that no shareholders are ever forced to sell their shares to LBO funds. The "hostile" refers to being hostile to the CEO and current senior management. However, the most successful LBO investments are situations where a successful company is acquired and its sales and earnings grow over a three to seven year period, making it more valuable prior to being sold again to a new owner. I may have to write a diary that outlines just the facts of how LBO funds actually operate.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon May 07, 2012 at 10:04:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Also, LBOs have enabled Dem-run cities and states. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, nextstep

 retain public employees that they otherwise would have had to let go.

          Right now, Dem mayors and governors are asking their public employee pension fund managers to increase their allocation to LBO funds.  With Bernanke's fed funds rate at 0.125% and the 10-year Treasury at less than 2%, you've got to reach for yield, and that means increasing your exposure to private equity, either venture capital or buyout funds.

          It's either that or acknowledge that the 8.5% annual target rate that many public pension funds are targeting is not realistic.  Of course, once a mayor/governor does that, he would immediately have to cut health care benefits / pensions / and civil servants.

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

          by PatriciaVa on Mon May 07, 2012 at 10:12:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not all LBOs are hostile takeovers (0+ / 0-)

        Some LBOs are initiated by the "target" company's own management.  And as VClib points out, no shareholder is ever FORCED to sell his/her/its shares to an LBO buyer.

        The only 2 requirements for calling an acquisition an LBO are (x) the buyer is buying enough shares in a corporation to acquire a controlling interest in the target (which is the buyout portion of "LBO"), and (y) the buyer is financing its purchase of those shares by borrowing money (which is the leverage portion of "LBO").

        I agree that frequently LBO buyers and sponsors take a short-term approach and just strip targets of their assets in order to repay the money borrowed for the acquisition -- and to pay themselves ridiculous dividends on their "investment" in the target.  

        I also agree with you that we should use language appropriately.  But if you say that all LBOs are hostile takeovers -- or that an LBO is equivalent to armed robbery -- that just shows that you don't understand what an LBO really is.

        "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

        by BachFan on Mon May 07, 2012 at 11:13:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  indeed so. (10+ / 0-)

      The explanation makes it clear. LBO--sort of like a Mafia acquisition.

    •  if (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Siri, elwior, rubyduby7, jamess

      If a corporation is really a person, then LBO companies ought to be liable for robbery, battery and murder.

    •  Shoudn't they be called "leveraged BUSTouts" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Ask the homophobes against marriage equality this: "Would you rather see two gay men marry each other or one closet case marry your daughter?"

      by spacecadet1 on Mon May 07, 2012 at 01:15:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rmoney is attempting a Leveraged Buyout (22+ / 0-)

    of our country.  There's already too much of that going on and he's just going to make it the standard practice if he gets a chance.   Just what parts are the people who are giving him money hoping to get to abuse or sell?

    "I understand business" is a favorite Rmoney line.   yep, fer sure    but, what kind of business is what should be trumpeted far and wide.

    You have hit it perfectly.  The worst thing that can happen to rmoney is for people to really understand his business knowledge.

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Mon May 07, 2012 at 06:17:19 AM PDT

    •  They Destroy Market Equilibrium (15+ / 0-)

      An old school company moving along paying attention to how much debt it takes on, debt being something that must be carefully analyzed before committing...  Buildings possibly paid off long time ago whose value has been artificially inflated by insanely low interest rates as part of the wealth stripping real estate boom.  The paid off equipment is being maintained properly.

      Profits are rolling in at a steady rate and have been doing so for years, although probably not at the perpetually increasing level expected by the financial robber barons, but generally a profitable venture.

      The workforce is stable, nobody is getting rich, but mortgages are getting paid, food is getting put on the table, dads are getting to go home to coach and watch little league games.

      A state of equilibrium has been reached...

      Then destroyed in a heartbeat.

      •  this company you discribed (7+ / 0-)

        is the real american dream. it's rooted in community and security for all those around it.  

        It may be boring but its the real american dream of shared security and prosperity!

        Their american dream!?! is getting rich quick. Doesn't matter if you are doing good for those around you in the process. Getting rich to them is virtue !?!

        We must fight against version of the american dream! Its poison.

        •  And I Don't Care If It's Naive (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          itsmitch, Siri, jamess

          I fully realize that description could be seen as being somewhat naive, and I've worked for some pretty abusive owners and alongside some pretty lazy co-workers.

          But the general expectation of perpetual growth in earnings and market share in an environment of flat population growth and limited resources is not only naive, but also stupid.  How the hell do you sell more carbonated sugar water, more smart phones, more cellular plans and broadband to the exact same number of people?  Yet you're being demanded by your owners to produce ever more more more profits.

  •  The Key That's Not Quite Clear In This (7+ / 0-)

    is --as my layman self understands it-- is that the debt of all the loans belongs to the company that's been bought, not to the buyer.

    When I borrow to buy a house, the debt is mine. Sure, the house is collateral, but the house itself doesn't have to make the debt payments, I do.

    If I buy out a business this way though, --if I understand this right-- the business is both the collateral and the holder of the debt. I can walk away with all the profits of the fees and investments I made in the process of buying it, and the company has to pay all the debts I ran up. And there doesn't seem to be [any?, enough?] checks or balances to make sure the company can afford the costs I saddled it with.

    Is that anywhere close?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon May 07, 2012 at 06:26:07 AM PDT

    •  That's a decision the lender makes (5+ / 0-)

      If Capital Group A acquires a big enough ownership of Company B so tat CG A is the "owner" of Company B, the CG A can do what it wants with company B.   That's how ownership works. If CG A wants to take Company B private, and can find a lender willing to lend money to Company B secured only by the assets of Company B, then it can do that.  It's all arranged as one deal.

      Actually, in some ways I think it's more like an individual taking out a home equity line of credit on their house.  It's the owner of the asset borrowing money on the value of the asset.  In this case, the asset is a company made up of many assets.  If you can't pay back the home equity line of credit, the house gets foreclosed upon.  If Company B doesn't make enough money to pay back the borrowings, it may have to sell off the assets used to secure the borrowings.  

      •  Or declare chapter 11 (0+ / 0-)

        and reorganise while shedding all those pesky pensions.

        "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

        by northsylvania on Mon May 07, 2012 at 07:42:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True enough. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          it's up to the owner of the company to decide if the benefits it gets from Chapter 11 bankruptcy re-organization is worth the significant downside of that move, which can significantly reduce, or wipe out, owners' equity in the company.  When a company goes into Chapter 11, it's usually not a good thing for the owners, either.  Or, of course, under certain circumstances,  creditor(s) can force a company into bankruptcy.  

    •  BINGO!!! (6+ / 0-)

      No. Gooserock, you got it perfectly right.  The buyer doesn't necessarily need to saddle the purchased company with the debt, but the common process is to do precisely that.  Essentially, the purchased company "repays" the buyer for the debt incurred to initially buy the company's shares by taking on debt, leaving the "buyer" whole in the process at the very least.

      We haven't even gotten into the other ways that LBOs extract money out of the process.  They reduce staff and ramp up work demands, thereby squeezing more money out of the employees.  If a business can get employees to work 60-hour weeks (or more) and pay them for only forty, well, there's good money to be made.  The line workers find that their contracts are renegotiated, so wages get slashed by hefty percentages.  Everybody finds that the raider firm extracts any dollars existing in the target firm's pension funds so that nothing is left.  Nothing is done for product development, so that the raider is basically looking at the target firm as a wasting asset to be mined dollars.  Once the target firm has been turned into a husk of its former self, the raider squeezes out the few last drops remaining in the business by putting lipstick on the pig and going public again, looking to find a fool to buy the story line they peddle in their dog'n'pony show.  Even the mob would be envious of the way these guys work.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Mon May 07, 2012 at 06:43:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a strange world when... (7+ / 0-)
       * Low existing debt loads;

        * A multi-year history of stable and recurring cash flows;

        * Hard assets (property, plant and equipment, inventory,     receivables) that may be used as collateral for lower cost secured debt

    indicate weakness.
  •  If corporations are people?!? "my friend" (7+ / 0-)

    Then One corporation buying another is slavery!

    When you look back at the history of how the modern corporation has evolved I think we can say the one of the most dangerous turns was when it became possible for one corporation to own another.

    Ted Nace wrote a fantastic book about the history of corporations going back to the 17th century. It's great reading. Lots of good info on the website.

    The Gangs of America

    Sometimes we lose track of just how far corporations have come in "their fight for liberation". I think compared to our movement(s) for civil liberties they are kicking our asses!

    My contention is that the modern corporation is the biggest obsticale to real, true, deep, meaningful democracy. Somehow we have to roll back corporate personhood and break these monsters down to human scale entities again. This is the key battle ground in american politics Today!

    •  "They were asking for it" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itsmitch, Siri, rubyduby7, jamess

      If a rapist were to use attractiveness and provocative dress as excuse for violating his victims, society would laugh in his face and throw the SOB in jail.

      But LBO artists are rewarded in our culture, and their exploits taught at the most prestigious business schools.

      If corporations are "people", shouldn't they be given a virtual can of mace?

    •  I've been making that argument for years (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itsmitch, jamess
      If corporations are people?!? "my friend"
      Then One corporation buying another is slavery!
      Slavery and/or involuntary servitude (except for punishment of a crime) has been outlawed under the 13th Amendment, so we have a legal argument to end corporate personhood.

      Another option is to use the prison labor loophole to force corporations convicted of crimes under the service of the government, paying them and their shareholders starvation wages for the duration of their sentences.  After all, if corporations are persons, they should also have to serve their sentences if they've been found to have committed crimes.

  •  I need to quibble a bit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kathy S, Siri, BachFan

    To be sure, I agree that Romney is the type of crass capitalist who adds no tangible value to a company.  He practices at the altar where shareholder value trumps all other interests, even public policy interests.  Worse, he puts himself in the position where he makes sure that his ability to make money supersedes  legitimate shareholders; their stock value may plummet while Bain walks away with millions.

    My quibbles are with using armed robbery analogy, and the suggestion a LBO always results in asset sales and company break-up.  

    An LBO has to start with an acquisition of controlling interest through legal means.  No one is forced to sell their ownership of a target company.   The hostile aspect of an LBO concerns the relationship between the raiders and the remaining equity holders and company management.  An LBO is not necessarily hostile but the notorious LBOS are hostile.

    Also, I have a hard time applying armed robbery to the situation, but pillage and plunderd seem very apt.   It would be an overstatement that employees are pawns in the games--even pawns have value.  Instead, most employees are like scrapped machinery to be discarded at the least possible cost.

    BTW: I did find this Wikipedia note about Bane to be very interesting and supportive of the diary's intent:

    Much of the firm's profits was earned from a relatively small number of deals, with Bain Capital's overall success and failure rate being about even.

    One study of 68 deals that Bain Capital made up through the 1990s found that the firm lost money or broke even on 33 of them. Another study that looked at the eight-year period following 77 deals during the same time found that in 17 cases the company went bankrupt or out of business, and in 6 cases Bain Capital lost all its investment. But 10 deals were very successful and represented 70 percent of the total profits

    I'm guessing that if Bain lost money, the target company didn't do well at all.  My thought about Bain's "success rate" indicates that Romney is no alchemist.  He likes to tout the same "success" examples over and over, and I have a hunch that the Obama campaign will be letting the country know more about his failures which are far greater in number.
  •  Some years back in my NYC years (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I got hired as a temp for (IIRC) some outfit doing some kind of deal that the SEC said "no" to, due to a lack of assets to back the deal up.  Their reply?  They flew the whole sales staff to London to run it from there to customers outside the US.  There was a lot of work to deadline to get ready for it, which is why they called up a temp (or temps?)

    This was the 80s, when Glass-Steagall was still in place and the Reagan people ran the show.

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:35:52 AM PDT

  •  Analogy problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, Rashaverak

    "If Corporations were people, LBO's would be like Armed-Robbery."

    a) Corporations are saleable entities, unlike people.
    b) Corporations put themselves up for sale by issuing stock, in full awareness that there is such a thing as a controlling interest.
    c) So, all stock owners are partial owners of some property and can legally and morally sell their property.
    d) It is neither illegal nor immoral to borrow money to buy cars, houses, or an interest in some enterprise.
    e) So it's a little hard to see how a series of voluntary transactions adds up to robbery.

  •  How DID Romney get so rich? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GOPGO2H3LL, jamess

    It's not magic...

    When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

    by msmacgyver on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:46:17 AM PDT

    •  The tax rate came later (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Romney became rich at a 50% marginal tax rate.  He did it by subtly cooking the books of the companies he took over, to make them attractive for resale.  He was a textbook vulture capitalist.

      Oh, yes.  It is credible to believe that one of the reasons he won't release his tax returns is how he shelters income.  Basically, you set up a lot of dubious -- not blatantly illegal, but at high risk of being judged adversely -- tax shelters.  You get a lot of tax attorneys to sign off on their validity -- this means that, if the IRS catches you, you can claim you relied on competent advice and your liability is limited to back taxes and interest.  (There's more to it than that -- you can't just get a lawyer to say it's legal if it blatantly isn't -- you make it close enough that the IRS would have to go to court; it's more cost effective to just get the taxes and interest).  The IRS probably finds and disallows 5-10% of these so the odds are in your favor.  Obviously, he won't have done this recently (not if he's a presidental candidate who pays 15% tax rates) and it's all legal, but the optics would be really bad if it came out.

  •  TEH JOB CREATORS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Creating jobs for the unemployment office.

    Obama is at war with radical anti-American terrorists. The radical GOP is at war with American women. Take that and run with it DNC, you inept fucking pikers.

    by GOPGO2H3LL on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:58:31 AM PDT

  •  if corporations are people then (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rubyduby7, jamess

    Wall Street is a slave auction.

    "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face" & "Polka will never die." - H. Dresden.

    by bnasley on Mon May 07, 2012 at 09:17:07 AM PDT

  •  it is a good diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and there is nothing, nothing, nothing here that gives him any leverage.. in creating jobs...


  •  Now spell out how dollars are created (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And the ease of the game becomes clear.

    When we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.

    by genethefiend on Mon May 07, 2012 at 09:21:13 AM PDT

  •  LBOs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In the 1980s, there were a couple of pieces to consider:

    1. In a lot of cases, you'd start with the company's own cash to finance the acquisition.

    2. Since these involved public companies, it often involved buying off the existing management and/or overvaluing the company to get the deal done.

    3. This is also when "junk bonds" were introduced.  Thus, when the company's cash and assets weren't enough to cover the inflated purchase price, one just issued bonds to cover it, at whatever interest rate was needed to get people to buy them.  Add some fraudulent underwriting practices and dubious bond fund accounting, and you were in business.

    This is when the business of making things (in this case, productive capacity) gave way to the business of making bets on things.

  •  Clear Channel LBO by Bain/Lee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's instructive to look at one of the biggest LBO's in recent years - that of Clear Channel by Bain Capital/Thomas Lee. Clear Channel is of course the biggest radio network, and the proud sponsor and employer of Rush Limbaugh.

    The deal saddled CC with a huge amount of debt. Then the recession happened, and the company became unprofitable even on a cash-flow basis.

    As a result the company has had to resort to somewhat desperate measures. Layoffs have been steadily increasing at local radio stations - every few months there has been another round. Recently they leveraged up their publicly traded subsidiary by borrowing more than a billion dollars and used the proceeds to pay a dividend, most of which flowed up to the parent.

    But the real crisis happens in a few years - 2016 to be precise. They then need to repay over $16 billion in debt and there is no reasonable way they will be able to do so. Their existing debt is trading at distressed junk bond levels. Likely they will have to restructure their debt or even file for bankruptcy protection.

  •  Well, that's not right at all. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, BachFan

    A leveraged buyout is where the purchase price is borrowed money where the business itself is the security for the loan.

    Think of buying a home or a put up what you're buying as the security for the loan to buy it.

    An LBO itself isn't a "hostile" takeover, a hostile takeover being takeover opposed by the current management even though there's plenty of shareholders willing to sell, whcih  may think the offer price is too low or may just want to keep their jobs.

    The only thing problematic about an LBO is that it might create a huge amount of debt which tempts a short term perspective of dismantling a company to sell assets just to raise short term cash.

    Romney is campaigning to be President SuperBain; his cure is to cut wages, end pensions, let companies go bankrupt, and let the assets of production go dark or be sold to China. He really thinks thats the best of all possible Americas.

    by Inland on Mon May 07, 2012 at 09:48:33 AM PDT

  •  Don't forget 'well-funded pension plan' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Some of the LBO's in the past have targeted companies who have had 'too much' money in their pension funds.

    If the raider can get his hands on that money, along with stripping the rest of the company, then the taxpayer may be on the hook for some of the pension liability when the gutted company goes bankrupt.

    I wonder if any of Romney's Bain Capital LBOs involved a pension fund raid?


    Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

    by databob on Mon May 07, 2012 at 10:24:43 AM PDT

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